The 84mm recoilless rifle known as the Carl Gustaf boasts a number of munitions for a variety of missions, but with one noticeable gap: a precision guided munition.
Raytheon has been working the past couple of years with Saab, the makers of the anti-tank, shoulder-fired Gustaf, to develop a laser-guided munition, according to Townsend Blanchard, a senior manager with Raytheon’s land warfare systems and Green Beret with the Army National Guard.
The new Gustaf laser-guided projectile features a multi-target warhead capable of defeating bunkers, concrete, light skinned vehicles and armored personnel carriers, and has a range of nearly 2,000 meters, Blanchard explained.
“It’s a game-changer because it brings precision down to that platoon for the Army and the squad for the Marine Corps,” Blanchard said.
The Army and the Corps are both amid plans to push the Gustaf to its infantry units as the two services seek to modernize and boost lethality in preparation for a near-peer fight.
While the Army is fielding the Gustaf at the platoon level, the Corps wants to field the recoilless rifle in every rifle squad across the Corps.
The new precision round can also be fired from inside an enclosed room. Meaning, a soldier or Marine operating the system can fire from the safety of a room, window, or behind cover without the fear of backblast causing injury or harm.
Backblast has been a major issue for the both the Army and the Corps with its current suite of shoulder-fired anti-tank systems. Gaseous over-pressurization that ruptures from firing anti-tank rockets results in backblast, and Marines and soldiers firing these systems have to be cognizant of who or what is behind them before they fire.
The Marines have been working to overhaul their shoulder-fired rocket systems with confined space systems.
Raytheon’s new Gustaf munition is guided by semi-active laser designators, Blanchard explained.
“Somebody will lase the target, the guy will pop up, fire, and get back down, Blanchard said.
The missile simply homes in on the laser and destroys the target.
Blanchard says Raytheon just got a contract with the Army to do three live-fire shots in spring 2020, with its guided Gustaf round. The live demonstration will feature two stationary targets and a moving target.
Right now, there is a SOCOM requirement for a precision guided Gustaf round, according to Blanchard
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.